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THE JAMES HOUGHTON FAMILY AS PIONEERS IN NEW YORK TWP.

Narrator: Katherine Houghton of Hamilton

Houghton History Early Hardships

An Accident at Otter Creek New York Families in N.Y. Twp.

New York Cemetery

James Houghton and his wife were among the New Yorkers who helped start the so-called New York settlement in Caldwell County in the 60's. Mrs. Houghton was Amy Jane Hall who was born in Jefferson County, N.Y. in a community called New Connecticut because the settlers were from that state. Her parents were Caleb G. Hall and Catherine Lewis. They were prosperous and progressive people as shown by the fact that in 1875 they had a furnace and carriage and other niceties of life.

Mrs. Amy went to rural school, then to Antwerp Academy and then taught school and "boarded round."

In 1875, she was married to James Houghton, once also of Jefferson County, but then of Caldwell County, Mo. He, in 1865, had started out from home with a youthful comrade to see the country. They went through this section on a train and it pleased him. He got a job as a brakeman on the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad and "fell for" the rolling farm lands through which his train ran. Finally he quit railroading in the fall of 1865 and bought a farm in the present N.Y. township, where his family lived for several decades and which is now in the possession of his daughter, Katherine. His farm like others at the time, was not fenced, so he split rails in 1867-8 and fenced it. His father, Otis Houghton, brought his family out in 1867 and set up a home near by.

When James Houghton's bride came out in 1875, she naturally found a contrast to her New York home. Here were few fenced fields, roads were laid but little used since it saved miles to cut across the prairie; no bridges but people forded the creeks; no buggies but people used lumber wagons or as New Yorkers said "double wagons."

She had been here just a week when she had an alarming experience. Mr. and Mrs. Houghton and his family (Otis Houghton) had gone to town to buy dishes, kitchen utensils, sugar and flour to fix up James' new home. It was in the spring and snow was melting. They forded the Otter Creek easily in the morning but in the evening they met with much trouble. They were in a "double wagon" and the force of the water dragged the horses and Mr. Houghton holding the lines, also the wheels and the wagon frame away from the wagon bed in which were left Mr. Houghton, the elder, Mrs. Houghton and their purchases. The wagon bed drifted on till they came to the log of a tree. There they caught hold, but the force of the water carried away the wagon bed and their stuff and left them hanging to the log. Finally, Mr. James Houghton got to shore with the team, caught the wagon bed, rescued them and their only loss was sugar and flour.

After James Houghton came to this county, other families from Jefferson County, N.Y. came, too. First, there were the three Austin brothers, Jake, Bill and Oliver; Jake bought a section and sold some to his brothers. Other Jefferson County settlers were the Searls, Salisbury, Thwing, Enos Boutwell families as well as the Owens, Doyle, Wolcott, Few, Combs families from other N.Y. counties.

Mail was a scarcity. Four families had an arrangement whereby each took a turn at bringing out the mail from Hamilton for the four families. This was usually once a week but in the winter in bad roads and weather it was at longer intervals; and at times Miss Houghton says, there was a gunny sack of mail sent out.

The community in 1875 started its own cemetery, New York Cemetery, in which the first burial was Mrs. Lucy Houghton buried Feb. 23rd. It is now endowed with $1200.00 for perpetual care. The original plot was one acre donated by A. Wolcott. This has lately been increased. The community also a soon built its own church.

This New York township was originally settled by what the New Yorkers called Missourians but the New York settlers soon became the dominant population and the community is generally known as New York settlement.

Interviewed June 1934.

 

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998